The mission of My New Red Shoes is to help homeless and low-income children look and feel confident as they start the school year by providing them with new clothing and shoes and by rallying youth and adults around this effort through volunteer and educational opportunities for individuals, families, schools, corporations, and community groups.
Not everyone has experienced poverty or homelessness, but everyone has had a first day of school. And for many, memories of the excitement and anticipation of the first day of school are still fresh in their minds decades later. In 2006, Heather Hopkins founded My New Red Shoes with the vision to improve the attendance and educational experience of homeless children and youth by increasing their confidence through the simple gift of new shoes and clothing.
A simple gift with remarkable results.
"Eric was having extreme anxiety about going back to school. He skipped school a lot throughout his 6th grade school year because he was laughed at since his clothes were sometimes dirty and always outdated. Eric and his mother had run away from his abusive father and since then had been homeless. Having new clothes had not been a top priority. When the My New Red Shoes [gift bags] arrived and Eric tried on [his shoes], they were a perfect fit. School started for Eric four days later, and he has not missed a day of school since. He does all of his laundry and homework at night and is up on time everyday for school with a huge smile. Eric has built a lot of new friendships at school, and he has a newly found pride about himself. He and his mother thank My New Red Shoes for making this possible." - from Partner Agency
My New Red Shoes works with collaborative partners, including school districts, family homeless shelters and other community-based organizations, to reach the children we serve. All children receive a brand new pair of shoes and a $50 clothing gift card to Old Navy packaged in a gift bag hand-sewn by a volunteer. A handwritten note from a volunteer wishing the recipient well on his or her first day of school is also included. We engage volunteers of all ages year-round to ensure our “service” feels like the personalized gift it is intended to be.
“You have made so many of the children and youth feel important and excited about school. As one child put it, 'It was really nice of you to give [this gift] to me, even though you didn't know me.' The kindness of strangers is not something these kids have often experienced." - Feedback from a Partner Agency
Growing to Meet a Great Need
Since 2006, we have served over 21,000 children. But there are more than 13,000 homeless school-aged children in the Bay Area right now and thousands more who are extremely low-income. We aim to provide shoes and clothing for school for all children who need them, starting with the 6,067 children and youth in nine Bay Area counties that we reached this past year, during the 2013 back-to-school season.